Last spring I suddenly realized a few days after Palm Sunday that I had no game plan for Easter whatsoever… which annoyed me when I reflected that to followers of Jesus, Easter is every bit as important as Christmas (possibly more so). Belatedly, I scrambled to figure how to buck culture, make a big deal out of the resurrection, and put the Jesus back in Easter.
This spring I’m a bit more on top of things. I pulled out our kids’ Easter CD and sing along whenever I know the words. Last week we started reading one page per day in The First Easter over breakfast, discussing the events that lead up to Jesus’ death. Each evening after dinner we open one egg from the Resurrection Eggs kit, reading the corresponding passage in the Bible. Some of the content is definitely over the heads of our 4- and 2-year olds, but they get some of it. Today we focused on the donkey today during Palm Sunday, helped by the palm-branch donkey our Coptic neighbor made for the kids.
We made crafts last week of bunnies and chicks and have our Easter cookie cutters ready to bake the sugar versions of the same. But I’m also planning some Jesus-centered activities – playing our Jesus-at-Easter board game, baking resurrection cookies, and maybe even attempting an Easter Mountain out of playdough (if I can get organized and motivated to really pull out the stops). I want to help them connect the Easter Sunday festivities to its meaning- so they get it that the party dress, chocolate, and jelly beans relate to Jesus and the miracle of his resurrection. We celebrate because of Him!
Note (added on Easter evening): We did the Easter mountain and loved it. It was just the right level of hands-on to be fun and engaging for all of us without being overwhelming or a time-suck. We made the playdough and baked the mold Thursday night; decorated the mountain, added the cross, and ‘enacted’ the crucifixion on Good Friday (putting Jesus on the cross and then into the tomb); and then rolled the stone away on Easter morning to reveal that Jesus was no longer there! Our four-year old couldn’t wait to roll the stone away when he woke up this morning; it brought life to the concept of the empty tomb for him. We were also pleased in his involvement on Good Friday. “I really wish we could put a guard in front of the tomb,” he said after we’d placed Jesus inside and rolled the stone across to cover the tomb. He knew about the guard that had been posted from our discussions of Easter events throughout the week. A great idea, so we promptly “posted” one. A must-do for us for next year!